A good reference can be the tipping point for an applicant getting a new position. If you are providing a reference for an employee or coworker, you should not answer questions lightly. While you may know the person well and have your own opinion about his strengths, you need to be sure your answers provide the specific information requested.
Describing Someone's Strengths
When a co-worker or employee asks you to provide a reference for him, you would be wise to ask a few questions before you agree. Assuming you are open to his request, ask him for a copy of his resume so that you can see what he is sharing with the potential employer. This will help you to coordinate your responses with his needs. Ask him if there are any particular strengths he wishes to emphasize -- there may be some that are key to the new position. Do not exaggerate. Hiring employers can usually detect embellishments, and you do not want to damage your credibility or the applicant's chances by making assertions that are later proved to be false. Sticking to the truth is especially important if the new position involves safety or technical expertise.
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